As a justification for homosexuality, this idea has always made me a bit uncomfortable. It's been rolled around in my mind again and again every time I've heard this used to argue that homosexuality shouldn't be thought of as sinful in modern Christianity.

And no matter how many ways I turn it, I can't quite make it fit. After all, the Christian stance on sexuality in general also condemns adultery, polygamy and polyamory, prostitution, pornography, and premarital sex. If you're ultra-conservative, any kind of sex besides vaginal intercourse is also out of the question. Why people who also disagree with the above viewpoints only become vocal about homosexuality is frankly a puzzle.

So how does homosexuality fit in with Christian doctrine? First, there's the Biblical position on homosexuality. Everyone has their own interpretation about exactly what this is, but I've always boiled it down to two things:

  1. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament condemn the practice of homosexuality without counterexamples. It's often pointed out that Jesus Christ never addressed the matter himself, but this is only to be expected. Jesus' ministry was about reforming the existing practices of then-contemporary Judaism, and Jewish law was very clear about this sort of thing. One could easily argue that Jesus' silence on this topic was evidence that he agreed with the traditional Jewish view.

  2. The doctrine of original sin, that all people are born into a fallen world, is central to the whole saving message of Christianity. This fallen world is believed to manifest itself in a number of ways: human mortality, natural disasters, and the inherent selfishness of children, to name a few. Mental illness and birth defects, to name two more.

Today, there are three schools of thought about how people come to be homosexual: it's there before they're born (genetically or otherwise), it's a psychological change during their formative years, or it's a conscious choice made by a mature individual. The last of those three is off-topic, while the first two can be viewed as yet another consequence of our fallen world. In other words, heterosexuality is what's "natural," and homosexuality is a deviation from this norm, in the same way as a person born with diabetes or attention deficit disorder. And like these conditions, homosexuality deserves to be corrected if it can, and accepted if it can't or if correction isn't desired.

That notion of acceptance is critical here. Because if a Christian wants to argue that homosexuality is in any way unnatural, he has to accept either that it's always a conscious choice or that it's a consequence of a sinful world. The former is just not true, based on any amount of anecdotal evidence. (That's not to say it's never a conscious choice, just that it isn't always one.) Which leaves the latter. And if someone views homosexuality as a condition rather than a choice, then it should not, cannot, be universally condemned.

So how should a Christian put this into practice? The apostle Paul offers a succinct guideline in a letter to the Corinthians: "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked man from among you.'" (1 Cor 5:12-13) Applying these words to this particular subject, it's clear that if Christians want to condemn homosexuality, it's only their place to do so within their church. Ranting and raving about it to non-Christians is an exercise in futility, because those people don't adhere to the moral guidelines that form the Christian's entire argument.

Here's what I think Paul would advocate to a modern church struggling with this issue: The Bible doesn't offer any leeway on the matter. Homosexual activity is invariably frowned upon in Scripture. But if a homosexual was a member of the church, or wanted to join, then he/she should be expected to put that lifestyle away as part of a new life in Christ, the same as a promiscuous heterosexual would be expected to put that lifstyle away. This person is still human, born into sin; unvarying obedience to God's law is neither expected nor demanded. It's unreasonable to expect the desire to simply vanish. But a flagrant refusal to put away that old lifestyle should result in expulsion from the church, because doing otherwise implies that the church accepts and condones it.

The point is that being born gay doesn't automatically imply that God wants people to be that way, any more than being born diabetic implies that God wants insulin to be optional. But it also doesn't mean that homosexuals should be treated like pentagram-tattooed Satanists whenever they come near a Christian. It's perfectly possible to "hate the sin and love the sinner". If Jesus could show mercy to prostitutes, adulteresses, and thieves, I think he would find it in his heart to share his message of love with someone who was -- *gulp* -- gay.

Please don't writeup a reply to this in subsequent writeups. Everything isn't a discussion board. Let your thoughts be in response to the node title, not to me.

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